NOTE: This article was also published on Legally India(http://www.legallyindia.com/Blogs/Entry/latest-satyamave-jayte-y-u-no-touch-me)
Today’s episode of Satyamave Jayte is probably the best one till date. Hitting on India’s Achilles’ heel, Aamir Khan has brought to our notice the unethical, disruptive, idiotic system which cannot be described even by the most insulting and derogatory adjectives; The Caste system prevalent in India and most of the developing and under developing nations of the world. But, for the sake of being targeted, I’ll limit myself to India.
A small history lesson is required here. Way back in history, about 4500 years ago, the Aryans are supposed to have inhibited Northern India and sparked off Hinduism. The original concept of castes was not on the basis of birth, but on the basis of occupation. This division made administrative sense and still does. The rudimentary form of caste division was similar to certain groups having certain different rules depending on their occupation for better functionality in their profession. It made sense to everyone and soon became the way of life. However, somewhere down the line, this system was taken for granted and turned into a hereditary system i.e. the division of the people into classes gained a basis in birth and not profession. A hierarchy was created which was strictly and rigidly followed so as no one was allowed to climb or descend in their pecking order. A radical lower rung member couldn’t do anything except what his ancestors did for a living and a upper rung purist couldn’t do anything else. Skills, love, talents etc. were tagged “bullshit” as everything from your job, spouse and basically your entire life, was decided by your birth.
Many pose the question, “How the hell do you justify this?” When the same question was posed to a Brahmin in Kashi (Varanasi, Benares whatever), we saw the answer he gave in Stalin’s video. He righteously had put on some shady shades(couldn’t resist it) and scratching his bald spot, he solemnly quoted the Laws of Manu, Chapter 1 Verse 31.The Laws Of Manu is an ancient manuscript written by the desi version of Adam, which lists out the chapter of Genesis Indian style and lays down the ground rules for life. Verses 30 and 31 of Chapter 1 read as:
As at the change of the seasons each season of its own accord assumes its distinctive marks, even so corporeal beings (resume in new births) their (appointed) course of action.
But for the sake of the prosperity of the worlds he caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Shudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs, and his feet.
The so called religious heads conveniently ignore Verse 30 and cite Verse 31 as the reason for untouchability because their logic dictates that somehow, God gave them divine rights over the Shudras as they were born from God’s mouth and them from his feet. In return of their argument, I point out Verse 30 which clearly says that human beings, like seasons, have distinctive features which should be the core of their division. Nowhere is the family they are born into mentioned. Plus, it is commonly held that all ancient writings were cryptic et metaphoric. Verse 31 could easily be mistaken for the assignment of duties i.e. a Brahmin created from God’s mouth meant that a Brahmin is a person who teaches and guides society. A Kshatriya was the corporeal representation of God’s hands which meant they were the muscular protective organs of the world. The Vaishyas were from God’s thighs, hardened to deal in clever businesses while the Shudras were the massive workforce of the world represented as God’s feet; always working and dead useful. Each of these segments had their own worth but were primary in their own sense for the proper functioning of society, with the human body as its metaphor.
Moving on from the religious aspect, let’s consider the modern crisis. Many people (sometimes including me) blame the government for the erratic reservation system which ingrains in every Indian the caste system. Initially envisaged as a temporary, 15-20 year measure for the growth of people with backward lifestyles, the caste based reservation system was designed to ensure that until the supposed “backward” people didn’t gain basic rights and educations, they still could enjoy privileges in society. However, 65 years after our Independence, we are nowhere near phasing out the system and are sickly tired of it. The situations created by this reservation are simply pathetic. The sickening feeling a deserving candidate gets when a less performing student gets his or her allotment on the basis of his birth, creates a negative impression. How can a person demand for equal rights when a person is being bluntly given extra privileges? Many protest by saying that backward castes deserve these privileges and they are right in their own holding too, but it’s a debate which lasts forever because the Constitutional reservation system is a caste system in itself, but here in, it’s the other castes at loss because the extra privileges are given to the Scheduled castes, tribes etc.
Then comes in the political factor. Initially tasked with good will (or maybe not), politicians have turned the caste system as a political situation which they can easily exploit. A certain elephant resembling, elephant-symbol using, statue-making corrupt leader is the best example of this situation. The so called “Leader of The Dalits” gave a rat’s fart about their plight and it reflected in her self-glory proclaiming reign as the Chief Minsiter of Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi, the supposedly young but in his forties leader of India, again gives a rat’s fart about them and all he does is enjoy their delightful cooking in their homes with the Indian chuskiyan of tea. So much for youth leaders!
Eventually, it boils down to conformity and perceptions in our minds. Just claiming to be educated and scientific doesn’t make sense until we actually do. No religion in the world preaches discrimination, so why do its followers? Assimilation into common society is something which is needed, demanded and wanted by today’s youth. Discrimination won’t disappear overnight, it will go away slowly. The RTE is an excellent step forward in this direction. It will not only ensure a kid’s exposure to a varied and wholesome culture in school, it will also facilitate an environment where discrimination doesn’t exist. It may sound very idealistic but the truth of the matter is that to remove something which is rooted, engraved and ingrained in our blood and mind, idealism is the only solution out. Also, it is important to slowly phase out the constitutional reservation system along the terms of the phasing out of the Haj subsidy system, decreasing the percentage year by year. To defend this suggestion, I put forward a valid reasoning. The reservation system was designed so as to give certain privileges do people who were wronged for no reason except their birth. It was a temporary measure because it was expected that educational reforms and the guarantee of individual rights in our nation would set everything right. But, it unfortunately did not happen. Still, better late than never, the RTE was implemented to ensure equal education for everyone. Now as the RTE impact increases, it is only viable and logical to decrease the quota percentages for the reserved seats in any institute or workplace or anywhere else.
I’m no Aamir Khan and nor am I a legislator. I am just a citizen of a democratic nation with a free will to think and speak. Maybe these ideas are right or maybe wrong, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right?